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Book vs Film: We chatted about which medium triumphs in the case of Kingsman, The Secret Service

In a new series, we discuss over texts the merits and flaws of famous books and their screen adaptations. Our debut outing takes up the first comic book, Kingsman: The Secret Service (2012), in the famous series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. It was made into a 2014 film by Matthew Vaughn.

books Updated: Mar 08, 2018 17:06 IST
Book vs Film,Kingsman: The Secret Service,Kingsman the movie
Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ first comic in the Kingsman series was adapted into a 2014 film by Matthew Vaughn.

Is the book better or its movie adaptation? Nothing divides a room full of bibliophiles and movie buffs into opposing camps faster than this question. Purists will tell you to never ever watch the movie before reading the book. Realists will point out the difficulty of ploughing through doorstopper classics in archaic English and historical settings. Aesthetes will complain about new editions that have the movie poster plastered on the cover. Some screen adaptations will get trashed and some lauded.

In our first Book vs Film edition, we talk about Kingsman: The Secret Service. Such a discussion is always subjective and so is ours.

But first, a word about the plot to refresh your memory.

The comic tells the story of Gary Unwin or Eggsy who lives in London with his mother, a baby brother and an abusive stepdad. Things change when Eggsy’s uncle, James London, steps into their miserable lives and takes him under his wing. London is a secret agent who gets Eggsy enrolled into the spy academy. London is investigating mysterious kidnappings of celebrities, and a billionaire eco-terrorist working on a rather extreme solution to climate change.

The movie tweaks the plot majorly and introduces new characters. In a win for gender and diversity, it makes the villain a black man (Samuel L Jackson as Richmond Valentine) and his henchman, Gazelle, a woman. It also gives a peek into the history of the Kingsman, a secret global spy agency, and makes Eggsy the kind of underdog you’d want to root for. But the best thing about the film is Colin Firth, who plays the gentleman spy Harry Hart (no longer Eggsy’s uncle but his father’s former colleague).

Like most readers and cinema lovers we have our opinions on the comic and the movie, which we discussed in a Facebook Live.

Here’s a slightly longer version of our debate over texts:

Colin Firth as Harry Hart in a still from the famous Church massacre scene. (
Samuel L. Jackson plays Richmond Valentine, the billionaire-villain (Dr James Arnold in the comic) in the movie. (
Sophie Cookson as agent Roxanne in a still from the film. (
Sofia Boutella as Gazelle in a still from Kingsman: The Secret Service. (

Next week we’ll talk about Douglas Adam’s The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you have any thoughts/opinions on Kingsman: The Secret Service tweet to us @httweets.

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First Published: Mar 05, 2018 11:44 IST